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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

THURSDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER 1999: Meeting L&G – Nice people, weird office

I am now clear now about how to structure the Department, at least in the immediate future. “W”, one of my 3 immediate deputies and a very experienced guy will lead my purchasing integration team, supported by “L”, my senior IT Purchasing expert. We hold a Senior Management Team meeting (SMT) to discuss who does what. As well as the integration, we have to think about resources for PREP, our systems project. "E-Procurement" has become an incredibly sexy subject, and we are looking at how we need to invest in new systems and change our processes accordingly.

The meeting gets quite heated- there's a hell of a lot to do with limited resources, but on the positive side, the L&G merger should give us a chance to create new roles and promote a couple of our young star managers. This is also an opportunity for us to show the value purchasing can add. We are already one of the largest purchasers in the UK corporate world and bringing our £2 Billion a year spend and L&G's £500 million (my guess) together should give some interesting opportunities.

After lunch, W and I drive down to Kingswood in Surrey to the L&G Head Office. This is an initial scoping meeting - it is not appropriate to start detailed integration work, but it is OK to start making contact and thinking about how we swing into real action once the deal is confirmed. We have to be careful about exchanging detailed information, just in case another company enters the bidding for L&G. If that happened, L&G would be obliged to give the new bidder all the information NatWest had received, which could be difficult and time-consuming. So, it is better to talk rather than swapping data.

The L&G Head Office building is a monstrosity - I think it looks like a huge crematorium. W thinks it is the alien HQ from a science fiction film. It has a large training centre on site, with bedrooms, and grounds including a football pitch. But it is in the middle of a Surrey-upper-middle-class-posh estate, and the traffic at home-time is terrible; it can take 15 minutes to do the first 400 yards. It is a very strange location and you wonder about planning regulations.

Their Head of Purchasing is a very pleasant lady who seems to know her stuff. We have a very good meeting, also involving a couple of their senior finance people and they seem to be genuinely enthusiastic, both for the merger in general and for what we can do together in Purchasing.I spend a couple of hours at home in the evening doing the final detail on the new structure, ready for announcing to the staff first thing tomorrow. As well as setting up the integration team, we will have some promotion opportunities and a couple of senior managers will move into roles I think will suit them better. I have a several page announcement ready to go on the e-mail.

* 2019 notes; Legal and General moved out of their Kingswood office in 2017. Last month (August 2019) plans were finally submitted to turn it into a retirement village. I described it as a “monstrosity” – it is actually a listed building, built in the 80s and has an “innovative Post-Modernist design combining an abstracted classical vocabulary with traditional materials and High-Tech elements” according to Historic England! I still think it is a bit of an eyesore.

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